On the heels of yesterday’s news concerning Joba Chamberlain, the Yankee GM said he will be exploring in house options in the near term before diving into the trade market. To that end, I thought it would be timely to look at some of the in house options, and see which ones make sense and which don’t.
Kevin Whelan-One of the last remaining vestiges of the Gary Sheffield trade, he seems to be finally putting it all together this year as the closer for Scranton Wilkes-Barres. Joel Sherman has already tweeted that he’s the front runner to get the call up. Having a strong 2011 season, posting a 1.67 ERA with just 17 H and 30 SO in 27 IP. Whelan has always missed a ton of bats, the question was always whether or not he could keep his walks down to a reasonable level, which he (6BB) has this year. Type of guy who could dominate first time through the league, but could become very frustrating once teams get a book on him. Think of a latter-day Jeff Nelson. Worth a look, but must keep throwing strikes.
Phil Hughes-Brian Cashman has already shot this one down, sort of. He said Hughes is being “prepared as a starter” which is what they would do whether they put him in the bullpen or not, to keep their options open. Personally, I don’t see it happening. It’s difficult to argue that a healthy (key distinction there) Phil Hughes isn’t an upgrade over Freddy Garcia or Ivan Nova. I’d bet against Hughes reprising his brilliant 2009 role, but won’t dismiss the possibility completely. If Phil returns to the rotation and struggles again, you can’t rule it out.
The Killer B’s-All 3 have been ruled out by Brian Cashman in the near term, but still deserve some individual analysis:
Andrew Brackman-He’s not in contention according to Cashman because “He hasn’t pitched well” which may be the understatement of the year. The former No. 1 draft pick is 2-5 with a 6.75 ERA for AAA Scranton and has walked 40 batters in just 52IP. Advanced hitters in AAA are simply waiting him out, and he’s not throwing enough strikes to make them pay. There’s an old saying that “relievers are failed starters” and many scouts and Yankee execs (ie Mark Newman) have long felt that’s his eventual home in the bigs, if he gets there. Andrew is approaching that point where the organization has to see if there’s any way they can get some value back for that 4.55 mil they gave him on draft day. His work this year in the rotation was so bad they were considering a move to the bullpen as recently as June 2. Throughout Andrew’s years with the Yanks, there have been whispers about his lacking confidence, getting down on himself and letting damage get out of control, unable to self-correct on the fly. Doesn’t sound like an ideal relief candidate, but he did have a good stretch out of the bullpen at the end of his horrific 2009 campaign. I think you’ll have to test this idea out at AAA before calling him up.
Manny Banuelos-Brian Cashman had this to say yesterday about Manny Banny:
“He needs better fastball command. His stuff’s great but he’s not throwing as well as he’s capable of throwing. So he’s not an option on performance alone.”
Banuelos doesn’t have raw, pure blow away stuff, so he needs to learn the art of pitching. That means pitch selection, location, and getting the most out of what you have working that day or inning. His stuff and make up is good enough to get MLB hitters out right now, but clearly needs more seasoning. He can’t do that at the MLB level working out of the bullpen.
Dellin Betances-He’s been terrific this year (1.99 ERA 45 IP 31 H 22 BB 50 SO) but those 4 and a half walks per nine have to raise an eyebrow. That’s facing AA hitters, so he could face some of the same issues Brackman is dealing with when he gets to the more advanced competition in AAA. There’s something to be said for getting lots of innings under your belt before pitching in the big leagues, and if anyone could use that time it would be someone as high maintenance as Betances.
DJ Mitchell-Interesting candidate. Has a full repertoire of pitches, featuring a heavy sinker and mixing in a curve, slider and change. Has worked both as a starter and reliever in AAA, which says something about how the Yanks view him. Does a good job keeping hitters off balance, and draws comps to Ramiro Mendoza. Stuff has played up in the pen, and never generated the type of GB rate that would make you think he sticks as a starter. Could get a look at some point this year.